The University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team will be looking to establish a new type of home-ice advantage Friday night, as they take on the Calgary Dinos in their first ever game at Merlis Belsher Place.
It’ll be an adjustment for veteran players for the Huskies, who had become accustomed to the cozy confines and small ice surface at Rutherford Rink.
Merlis Belsher Place’s ice sheet is 11 feet longer, about five feet wider and slightly larger than the NHL standard.
“We’ve lost a bit of our advantage because the space we’re playing in now is similar to a lot of (other) teams,” head coach Dave Adolph said.
“Teams hated playing at Rutherford.”
With the boards further apart and a longer distance between ends, Adolph said there will be more focus on skating and skill at the new arena.
Overall, he thinks that will benefit the Huskies.
“It’s a way better game on a bigger ice surface,” he said, noting players had to be adept at ricochet shots and positioning at Rutherford.
“Here (at Merlis Belsher Place) you have to be a good skater, a good puck handler … there’s lots of lanes to go to the net.”
Fourth-year forward Kohl Bauml told reporters after Thursday’ practice the new rink will fit perfectly into how the Huskies play.
“Because there’s more room, we can take advantage of our speed,” he said.
“We’ll have a bit more space and time to make the skill plays we’re capable of making.”
Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. after a pre-game ceremony introducing the team and donors who contributed to the building of Merlis Belsher Place.
–With files from 650 CKOM’s Wray Morrison.